Airine said it does not expect widespread disruption this summer but many tourists are feeling nervous
It was supposed to be a summer of revenge travel. But in many ways, it looks like a summer of travel discontent.
Holidaymakers already anxious about airport delays, Covid restrictions, passport hold-ups and rising prices are now facing the possibility of industrial action.
Unions representing some of Ryanair’s Spanish cabin staff plan to strike over two periods in the peak holiday season, from June 24-26 and June 30 to July 2, as a pay dispute ramps up.
I’ve booked our family holiday in Spain for early July, and won’t be alone in feeling a pang of nerves. Spain is Ireland’s most popular sun holiday destination.
If the strikes do play out – and it’s important to say that’s not a given – it’s unclear how many flights or destinations may be affected.
Ryanair says the threat is from a relatively small portion of its Spanish crew, represented by the USO and SITCPLA unions, and that it has a deal in place with the largest, CCOO.
“Ryanair has negotiated collective agreements covering 90pc of our people across Europe,” it said.
“Those negotiations are going well and we do not expect widespread disruption this summer.”
Nevertheless, tensions between airlines and unions do not exactly add to the joy of holiday anticipation. Many of us have waited three years or more for a sun holiday, and are already stressing out.
The threats in Spain follow flight cancellations to Italy and France after air traffic controller strikes last week, and Ryanair’s Spanish unions have said they may also look to co-ordinate action elsewhere in Europe.
Of course strikes, just like weather disruptions, were part and parcel of travel before the pandemic. We’ve seen the theatre of threat and brinksmanship before.
What’s different now is that labour strife is playing out as pent-up travel demand goes off like a fire hydrant and airports, airlines and all of the companies tied up in their operations, from ground handlers to caterers, are struggling to cope.
Travel disruption is widespread, and there is no short-term solution in sight.
From Toronto to Madrid and Schiphol to Sydney, long lines, missed flights and blame games are roiling an industry still reeling from the pandemic.
We’ll be debating the causes of this mess, and the role of government travel restrictions, pandemic lay-offs and working conditions for a long time, but that’s cold comfort to travellers now.
Strange as it sounds, however, Irish holidaymakers do have some things to be thankful for.
Dublin Airport is struggling and some have missed flights, sure. But almost all passengers are getting away.
Contrast that to the UK, where 10,000 EasyJet customers had their flights cancelled yesterday alone.
BA and Tui have also been cancelling departures, and airports like Manchester and London Gatwick are under extreme strain.
Elsewhere in Europe, Lufthansa has axed 900 flights (or 5pc of its schedule) in July due to staff shortages.
By comparison, Aer Lingus and Ryanair’s schedules have held up well – for now.